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An About-face for Facebook? – Marfeel

Mobile Marketing

Alexian Chiavegato, VP of marketing at Marfeel, considers the implications of Facebook’s recent acquisition of Source3.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced the acquisition of Source3, a company dedicated to protecting intellectual property, in order for artists of all kinds to monetize and protect their work from piracy on the Facebook platform.

This news comes hot on the heels of Facebook announcing last week that it will will be testing the option for publishers to lock Instant Articles behind a paywall – for the first time acknowledging the importance of publishers getting paid for content circulating on its social media platform. Is Facebook starting to realize the importance and value of the content promoted over its platform? Or does Facebook realize that in order to get high quality content, it needs to pay for it and perhaps invest in it?

For years, the social media giant has had publishers’ content circulating on its platform for free. And as the trend for speedier news came to light, Facebook created Instant Articles, while Google developed AMP, and Apple followed suit with Apple News. Marfeel has seen, through the hundreds of publishers we work with, that in fact Facebook Instant Articles has been performing the least well for publishers. That is, engagement is low and publishers are making less money over Instant Articles compared to AMP and Apple News.

In fact, both Google and Facebook have been benefitting so much from the free news circulating on their platforms that the News Media Alliance has asked Congress to step in for an antitrust exemption. They are requesting government intervention since local news organizations in the US would not be able to survive if Google and Facebook continue to make profits off their content without them receiving benefit for their work. The EU has already taken a tough stance against anti-competitive actions and fined Google $2.7bn (£2.1bn).

These discussions with law makers “stemmed from publisher frustrations over the [digital advertising] duopoly and having to play by the rules of Facebook and Google,” said Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at News Media Alliance.

The two choices that would best resolve this issue is for publishers to receive a larger share of the digital advertising pie or to create a subscription model for their publications. Though some are skeptical that an anti-media government would step in to help the News Media Alliance and even if they did the power of negotiation over ad revenue would be in the hands of Google and Facebook. Though having said that, it seems from the recent news that Facebook is opting for the subscription model route, which provides some hope that the tech giants may be willing to take a more fair approach, leaving the rest of us to wonder which road Google and Apple News will take. Or, if they will take any, at all.

And through all this the questions remains – is Facebook taking great care to protect the content on its platform or even greater care to avoid hefty fines at a time when publishers are starting to fight back?

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